Oct 20, 2022

Terrestrials: The Water Walker

The ocean can be a scary place: the waves are so strong, the water so deep. But surfer and illustrator AJ Dungo tells the story of an earthling who figured out how to walk on water and literally defy the rules of gravity. If you want a big SPOILER, here it is: It’s only human for the season, the grandfather of modern-day surfing, Duke Kahanamoku. Duke’s great grandniece, Heather Kina’u Paoa tells us about what Duke’s life was really like. We learn about the physics of surfing, and how surfing is an escape, not just on a spiritual level, but a physical one too. Finally, we learn how Duke’s story of learning to conquer the waves while remaining true to his Hawaiian heritage inspired AJ to get through one of the hardest times of his life. 

TW: this episode deals with the loss of a loved one and grief.

Learn about the storytellers, listen to music, and dig deeper into the stories you hear on Terrestrials with activities you can do at home or in the classroom on our website, Terrestrialspodcast.org.

Watch a music video for “It Comes in Waves” and find even MORE original Terrestrials fun on our Youtube.

Badger us on Social Media: @radiolab and #TerrestrialsPodcast 

Support for Terrestrials is provided by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation Initiative, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

More from Terrestrials 

The Shovels: Dig Deeper

For each episode of Terrestrials, we provide a selection of activity sheets, drawing prompts, musical lessons, and more. We call them “shovels” because we hope they will help you (and your friends, family, students, neighbors, etc) dig more deeply into the world! You can do them at home, in the classroom, outside, or in the privacy of your own mind. We hope you enjoy!

If you want to share what you’ve made, ask an adult share it on social media using #TerrestrialsPodcast and make sure to tag @Radiolab

Draw -  Got the big feelings? Drawing can help. This week's drawing prompt from Wendy Mac at the DrawTogether podcast is a three part series called Emotional Doodles all about how to translate feelings into art (and, in turn, maybe even help you move through the hard feelings).

Play 🎶 - Learn how to play the chords to the song “IT COMES IN WAVES

Do - Get crafty with a fun activity sheet!  

This week’s storytellers are AJ Dungo and Heather Kina’u Paoa.

Want to keep learning? Check out these resources to learn about the gravity-defying history-maker, Duke Kahanamoku:

Check out Makani Tabura's Culturised podcast (about Hawaiian culture and history!)
Check out AJ Dungo’s comic book (aka graphic novel), In Waves
Watch the new documentary about Duke, Waterman

Resources on Grief:

Guide to Helping Children Cope with Grief from the Child Mind Institute is a resource available for families navigating the loss of a loved one. 
When a Loved One Dies: How to Help Your Child  (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth
I Cannot Heal My Children’s Grief, but I Can Help Them Name It
“Do Animals Experience Grief?” from Smithsonian Magazine
A Guide for Grown-Ups Helping Children Through the Toughest Times from Sesame Street in Communities


If you or someone you know is considering suicide, self-harm, or harm to others, please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 988. If you’re outside the U.S., you can visit findahelpline.com to find resources for your country.

Terrestrials is a production of WNYC Studios, created by Lulu Miller. This episode is produced by Ana González, Alan Goffinski and Lulu Miller. Original Music by Alan Goffinski. Help from Suzie Lechtenberg, Sarah Sandbach, Natalia Ramirez, and Sarita Bhatt. Fact-check by Natalie Meade. Sound design by Mira Burt-Wintonick with additional engineering by Joe Plourde. Our storytellers this week are AJ Dungo and Heather Kina’u Paoa. Transcription by Russell Gragg.

Our advisors are Theanne Griffith, Aliyah Elijah, Dominique Shabazz, John Green, Liza Steinberg-Demby, and Tara Welty.

Terrestrials is supported in part by Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation.

Have questions for us, badgers? Badger us away! Your parent/guardian should write to us along with you, so we know you have their permission, and for maybe even having your ideas mentioned on the show. Email terrestrials@wnyc.org 

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